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Nationals Acquire Troubled Dukes

Outfielder Elijah Dukes, 23, is a highly regarded baseball talent but has had a number of legal issues.
Outfielder Elijah Dukes, 23, is a highly regarded baseball talent but has had a number of legal issues. (By Doug Benc -- Getty Images)

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Though records show Dukes has a court date in January regarding an August domestic violence incident, Dukes's agent, Scott Pucino, said all Dukes's legal problems have been resolved. He now has contact with Gilbert and is allowed to see his children. The trade, Pucino said, could help in that it gets him away from his home town of Tampa.

"As he knows, he's made some mistakes in the past," Pucino said. "He's trying to correct them and move forward, and this is going to be a fresh start."

Even with the problems this spring, Dukes hit 10 homers by the end of May, though his average was just .190. He went to winter ball in the Dominican Republic, where he was on a team managed by Tim Tolman, the Nationals' third base coach. Dukes was ejected from a game last week and had to be restrained while arguing with the umpire. He has since left the team.

"The whole time I've had him, he handled the situation as good as -- or better than -- a lot of guys do down here," Tolman said by phone.

Now, he will have a new major league team. Bowden and Kasten said the Nationals have set up an off-field support system for Dukes that would include counseling.

"We're well aware of all the issues," Bowden said. "We have a plan in place on and off the field for him. It's very clear. Elijah's on board 100 percent. . . . This was a decision we took a lot of time on. We feel we made the right decision. We feel that it is better than an educated guess."

Nationals Note: A source with knowledge of the situation said the Nationals traded reliever Jonathan Albaladejo to the New York Yankees in exchange for right-hander Tyler Clippard, pending physical examinations of both players. The 22-year-old, who went 3-1 with a 6.33 ERA filling in for the Yankees this year, has a 3.52 ERA over five minor league seasons. He should immediately be a contender for Washington's rotation. Bowden did not return messages seeking comment on the deal.

Staff writer Dave Sheinin and researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.


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